Fresh shot at Dibang dam - NHPC reduces project area

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By ROOPAK GOSWAMI
  • Published 21.04.14
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Guwahati, April 20: The 3,000MW Dibang multipurpose project, which was turned down by the forest advisory committee of the ministry of environment and forests last year, is back in the reckoning with the NHPC dropping 33 hectares from the project.

As a result, the project will be discussed in the forest advisory committee meeting scheduled on April 29-30.

According to sources, the NHPC has informed the Arunachal Pradesh government that it is prepared to exclude 33.658 hectares of forestland falling within 10km of Mehao wildlife sanctuary.

“Thus, forest clearance will be required for 5,022.842 hectares instead of 5,056.50 hectares because the user agency (NHPC) has informed that they are prepared to exclude 33.658 hectares,” the agenda note prepared by the committee stated.

While turning down the project last year, the committee had stated that felling of more than 3.5 lakh trees would have adverse effects on the general ecosystem of the area — recovery of which would have been very difficult through any type of mitigating measure.

A source said the committee would examine the fresh proposal and see if more forest area needs to be left out. “If we find that the forest area required for the project is still too huge, we might again defer the project,” the source said. The proposed height of the dam is 288 metres.

No certificate regarding complete settlement of rights, in terms of the Scheduled Tribes And Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006, has been provided.

In his report, the ministry’s regional chief conservator of forests in Shillong stated that although two site inspections were carried out, the state forest department still could not show the sample plot required for checking the number of trees to be affected within the proposed area of the project.

The Dibang Multipurpose Project was taken over by NHPC from the Brahmaputra project in 2002 for establishment, operation and maintenance.

The project has been conceived on the Dibang river, which originates from the snow-covered southern flank of the Himalayas — close to the Tibet border at an altitude of more than 5,000 metres.

The main project area is located in the Lower Dibang Valley district of Arunachal Pradesh with the reservoir extending into Dibang Valley district.